The Japan–South Korea Identity Clash: East Asian Security and the United States

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The Japan–South Korea Identity Clash: East Asian Security and the United States
by Brad Glosserman and Scott A. Snyder
Columbia University Press, 2015
240 pp.
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Glosserman and Snyder use poll data and interviews with elites to argue that an increasingly confident South Korea has become more and more impatient with Japan’s hesitancy to acknowledge the crimes it committed during its imperial era and during World War II. The authors think this explains the two countries’ difficulty in getting along despite shared democratic values and similar threat perceptions. Realists might counter that divergences in the two countries’ strategies for handling the threats posed by China and North Korea are a better explanation for the lack of cooperation. But both explanations recognize that part of the problem lies in the hub-and-spoke alliance system that the United States built in Asia after World War II, which links each ally separately to Washington without fostering ties among them. To overcome this deficiency, the authors recommend building on existing low-level forms of cooperation. In the longer term, they hope for a reset in which all three sides would acknowledge historical wrongs and agree to look toward the future. Although few of its facts are new, the book offers a useful overview of an important trilateral relationship.